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i06

Energy security

What means 'energy security'?

Energy security is not a well-defined notion. In the discussions on the future energy supply different viewpoints may emerge. From a political viewpoint independency on other nations for the energy supply and geopolitical stability are important issues. From a corporate viewpoint the prolongation of a given energy system, belonging to the core business of a given industry, may be the main issue.

The nuclear industry emphasizes the reliable production of electricity by nuclear power plants, contrary to the fluctuating renewable energy systems (wind, solar). The nuclear advocates don't tell that nuclear power plants have to operate in base load, they cannot operate load-following like fossil power plants, and require a heavy grid and a large running backup power capacity (gas-fuelled) to compensate for power loss due to unplanned outages. Moreover, when the supply of electricity from renewables exceeds the demand at a given moment, the renewables are switched off the grid (e.g. in the USA and UK), to keep the nuclear power plants running at nominal capacity.

The nuclear advocates also don't tell that renewables are for free, abundant and constant of quality and availability. The fluctuations are relatively easy to compensate for by a smart grid and many micro cogeneration power units, as is proved by experience in Germany and Denmark. Besides, renewables need not to be imported from foreign countries.

Fallacies

According the nuclear industry the potential of nuclear power for the future is big. This view is based on two premises:

• trouble-free implementation of unproven technology

• availability of inexhaustable uranium resources.

How secure is the evidence on which these premises are based? Both premises turn out to be fallacies, for reason of ignorance of fundamental natural laws, especially the Second Law of thermodynamics. These premises will be discussed in separate sections [more i30, i38].

Après nous le dŽéluge

A third factor, implicite and unspoken, strongly contributes to the optimistic view of the nuclear industry with regard to the potential of nuclear energy in the future: the systematic postponement of the back end activities to future generations. Massive efforts, requiring large investments, massive amounts of energy, materials and human resources, are needed to isolate the radioactive wastes from the human environment. Contrary to widely vented statements, no advanced technology is needed to solve the radioactive waste problem [more i16].

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